January 2004 News Archive

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Copyright 2004 by Bill Fox All rights reserved.
Last Updated: January 31, 2004

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-- Weekend, January 31 --

[Update 10:15a ET] iPods Discounted 10% from Apple Store Online Today and Sunday Only according to the ad on the Apple Store's front page. [Bob Unger]

Aspyr Game Report:

  1. Aspyr announces Call of Duty, due to ship in April.
  2. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King is at Alpha and expected to ship in April.
  3. Aspyr announces Delta Force® Black Hawk Down.
  4. The Sims Makin Magic is at final candidate and is expected to ship in February!
  5. Aspyr announces Medal of Honor Allied Assault Breakthrough and it is expected to ship in March.
  6. Aspyr announces SimCity 4 Rush Hour and it is expected to ship in June.

Lots of new games are coming to the Mac!

Windows Apps on a Mac sans Windows: It's coming. Here is a note from Danny Lewis about Darwine:

"I just learned of the Darwine project that will attempt to get Windows running on Mac OS X using Wine--the program that emulates the Windows API on *nix. They say one day you'll be able to run Windows programs without Windows. The project is in early development and they have a long way to go. Take a look."

Our Diskwarrior 3.0.1 Update Experience: From Dana Baggett, our New England editor,

I ordered the DiskWarrior 3.0.1 CD the same day it was released - Jan. 27. Alsoft mailed it via Priority Mail from Spring, TX. the next day Jan. 28 and it arrived here on Jan. 30. (Now if only a provider of one of my tax statements could be so prompt.)

The CD has the DiskWarrior 3.0.1 application on it. Installation on one's internal hard disk is not complicated.

2) Select the DiskWarrior icon found in the upper-left corner of the CD window and drag it to your hard disk. Alsoft recommends that DiskWarrior reside in the Utilities folder within the Applications folder.

I booted from the CD into Mac OS 10.3.2. The application opens; typically, you cannot see the desktop since Apple does not license its Finder. I had DiskWarrior 3.0.1 rebuild directories on my hard drive, my external FW hard drive and - surprise - my TechTool Pro 4 eDrive. The application ran noticeably faster than previous versions and completed its tasks flawlessly.

In perusing the DiskWarrior Read Me, I found the following info of possible interest to the owners of dual processor Macs.

Restart Stalls when Quitting DiskWarrior while Started from the DiskWarrior CD

When you quit DiskWarrior while started from the DiskWarrior CD, your Mac will automatically restart. The Mac OS X System folder on the DiskWarrior CD is licensed to Alsoft from Apple Computer and has a known intermittent issue when restarting some dual processor Macs. The problem will manifest as a stall just before the shutdown portion of the restart completes. Your disks are not in use at this point of the restart so you may simply restart manually to continue.

Also, mark me down as someone who did not know until now that DiskWarrior works on iPods! Here's the info from the Read Me:

Rebuilding (Repairing) Your iPod

The tight integration between iTunes, iSync and the iPod can prevent DiskWarrior from removing your iPod from the desktop and thus prevent you from rebuilding the iPod directory. One solution is to start up from the DiskWarrior CD since iTunes and iSync will not be running. Another solution is to eject and disconnect your iPod, temporarily change iPod related preferences in iTunes and iSync, reconnect your iPod, rebuild and then restore your preferences. In the iTunes iPod preferences, uncheck the box labeled Open iTunes when attached and then quit iTunes. In the iSync iPod preferences, uncheck the boxes labeled Turn on [your iPod name] iPod synchronization and Automatically synchronize when iPod is connected.

Among other goodies on the DiskWarrior CD is a QuickStart Manual and a complete 52 page DiskWarrior Manual in pdf format.

I liken DiskWarrior to the space tire on my automobile. It is rarely needed - except in an emergency. Then, I am delighted to have it.

MacBU at Microsoft is Featured in this Seattle Post-Intelligencer article. The employees actually use Macs openly on the M$ campus. [Lee Spencer]

New Apple Promo "Better Together.": Apple has a new promo entitled, "Better Together." The way the promo works is simple: Buy any Mac and get an Epson Stylus C84 ink jet printer free or get up to $99 on select Epson printers via mail-in rebate. Between January 30, 2004 and March 27, 2004, purchase a Mac together with an Epson Stylus C84 ink jet printer or qualifying Epson All-In-One or Epson Stylus Photo printer — and get up to $99 back by mail. All details available on this Apple web page.

Apple Updated Two Hot Deals Offerings:

B&H has great deals on a bevy of products for your Mac, including Sony Cybershot DSC-F828 8MP Digital Camera, Bose Media Mate Speaker System, Formac Devideon 4x External FireWire DVD Burner with DVD Authoring Software, Epson Stylus Photo R300 Photo Quality Letter Size Inkjet Printer, SmarkDisk FlashTrax Stand-Alone Data Storage Unit, Adobe Photoshop CS, and much more.

O'Reilly has nicely discounted prices on some of it's most popular Mac book titles, including "iPhoto 2: The Missing Manual," "Mac OS X in a Nutshell," " Learning Unix for Mac OS X Panther," "Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Panther Edition," "Running Mac OS X Panther," and much more.

-- TGIF, January 30 --

The GDC 2004--Spotlight on the Visual Arts Track: The Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2004 is coming up March 25-26 in San Jose, CA. In the GDC 2004 Visual Arts Track, attendees will gain inspiration and specific practical knowledge of advanced techniques to take art and animation in new directions. Sessions are focused on intermediate and advanced artists and are expanded in length to walk attendees step by step through the latest tools and techniques.

Here is an extract of an interview with Bob Rafei of Naughty Dog and Jonathan Peedin of Redstone Entertainment on game artistry:

Question: How is the role of the game artist changing? Are they becoming more specialized producers of stock assets?

Bob Rafei: Given the amount of data that needs to be created for competitive games today, artists are forced to specialize, with mixed results. The advantage for younger artists trying to break into the industry is simply more demand, and the ease of focusing their skill sets on desired positions of an art pipeline. In other words, they don't have to include the complete range of skills in their reels previously required for joining an art team. The downside, however, is the potential for typecasting, and little opportunity for lateral movement into other tasks. For veteran artists, there is the frustration of not being able to do it all, or having creative control, as was required before.

Jonathan Peedin: As the technology continues to improve and demand a greater degree of skill and finesse in order to properly utilize all the tools and techniques available, I believe that the requirements for the artist to improve his visual design skills and technical understanding will only continue to increase. Over time there appears to be a greater need for specialists that are really good at specific tasks, e.g. lighting, texturing, etc. Often these people are made the final "gate" so to speak with regards to these skills, meaning that other people may do some of this work, but the final touches and edits will usually be handled by one or two key individuals in order to harmonize all the components into one polished vision.

Q. To what extent is creativity being lost as a result of licenses and asset consolidation?

BR. Our creative limitation is usually a reflection of our imagination. Sure, there are certain expectations that come with license titles, but for the most part, the titles that are memorable become so due to their ability to stand on their own. In achieving this, they will enforce and help elevate their license, which by definition is a member of a bigger family.

JP. More to the point I think that creativity starts to get lost as cost for the projects go up. When a company is going to be spending millions to make and market a game, with a staff of 40+ people, then one of the biggest risks is to not know exactly what it is that you are making and how it will come together. This is probably going to mean that some people will routinely end up with the labor work of making objects, building vehicles, and other similar tasks.

Every Wednesday is "Pro Day" at the Apple Stores: According to Apple, here is what Pro Day is all about:

Learn what the Mac can do for your business. Your Mac is a powerful business tool. To harness the full power of it and other Apple products, join us for Pro Day at Apple Store locations every Wednesday.

Big news for big thinkers. Pro Day is here. Pro Day activities are led by experienced Business Specialists. We’ll offer free one-hour group presentations and 20-minute personal product demonstrations, so you can make the most of your big ideas. No reservation is needed. You can even bring your coworkers and clients.

Come to the Apple Store for all your business solutions. While you’re there, let us help you choose a new printer, offer helpful advice on customizing your software, or provide other solutions. You can go to your local Apple Store for hardware and software, service packages, classes, workshops, and more. We also offer special financing options.

We’re open one hour early every Wednesday. Apple means business. We’re opening all our Apple Store locations an hour early each Wednesday for our professional customers. Join us on Pro Day and visit the Apple Store anytime for all your business solutions.

Pepsi Cola's Upcoming iTunes Super Bowl Ad is Posted on this web site. The ad shows a number of teenagers who claim to have been sued by the Recording Industry Association of America for illegally downloading music and one who is legally downloading songs from Apple's iTunes Music Store. The background music is Green Day's rendition of Bobby Fuller's "I fought the law"--we'll take Fuller's original rendition but, of course, we're over 18. [Brian Nakamoto]

From the Dark Side--Eolas' Patent May Be Cancelled Saving M$ and the Internet according to this BizReport article. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office may cancel the super-vague patent which M$ was convicted of infringing on. The WWW Consortium has also claimed that the patent is based significantly on technology already existing when the patent was applied for. This is good news because virtually all web browsers and those web sites displaying multimedia content (Flash, QuickTime, etc.) could infringe on the patent, not just Internet Explorer. [Dana Baggett]

-- Thursday, January 29 --

Apple Offering iBook Video Repair Program according to this Reuters UK article. The news about the repair program for video issues in certain iBooks was emailed to Reuters by Apple's Phil Schiller, VP for Worldwide Product Marketing.

"We have determined that a small number of iBooks introduced in 2002 have a display problem caused by a component failure on the logic board." He said.

The program began yesterday and it applies to iBooks with serial numbers in a range of UV220XXXXXX to UV318XXXXXX manufactured between May 2002 and April 2003. The details are on this Apple web page. [Dana Baggett]

John Carmack to Keynote GDC 2004 Programming Track: The Game Developers Conference (GDC) 2004 is coming up March 25-26 in San Jose, CA. Carmack is the founder, owner and lead programmer of id Software. He is the programmer extraordinaire behind the popular 3D game series Quake.

According to GDC, as platforms mature, it takes more effort than ever to produce a game that will capture the attention of the public and press. The challenges facing a programmer in 2004 are no longer how to build systems, but how to build systems that create dense, cinematic, and reactive environments that push the envelope both technically and artistically.

The Programming track focuses on the challenges facing game developers working in today's market: mature consoles, a highly competitive sales environment, and increased demand for very high production values in games; and prepares programmers for the technology of the next generation.

Here are the Programming Track sessions:

Advanced Real-Time Reflectance
Daniel Baker & Peter-Pike Sloan, Microsoft, Naty Hoffman, Naughty Dog

Destruction on a Diet
Bruce Woodard & John Crocker, Incognito Studios

Practical Implementation of High Dynamic Range Rendering
Masaki Kawase, Bunkasha Games

Procedural Shaders: A Feature Animation Perspective
Hector Yee, PDI/DreamWorks

The Making of the Official Counter-Strike Bot
Michael Booth, Turtle Rock Studios

The Physics-Sound System of Deus Ex: Invisible War and Thief 3
Brian Sharp, Ion Storm

Metallifizer v1.3a1 Conflicts with Retrospect 6.0 according to Dana Baggett, our New England Editor. Metallifizer is a haxie from Unsanity Software:

Metallifizer will enable or disable brushed metal appearance on selected Cocoa applications under Mac OS X 10.2 (this includes Safari, Address Book, iChat, Calculator and others, but not iTunes and QuickTime Player, as latter are Carbon applications).

Dana had turned it off but it was not completely disabled (i.e. still checked in Unsanity's Application Program Enhancer). Metallifizer somehow caused the Retrospect 6.0 application to crash when launching after installation.

FBI Special Agent "Recommends" Macs according to this Security Focus article. The agent said "...many of the computer security folks back at FBI HQ use Macs running OS X, since those machines can do just about anything: run software for Mac, Unix, or Windows, using either a GUI or the command line. And they're secure out of the box."

Jef Raskin, First Apple Macintosh Project Manager is Chronicled in this article in his home town paper, The Pacifica Tribune. Raskin was hired in 1978 to write manuals for Apple Computer and ended up heading the Macintosh development project. He had a falling out with Steve Jobs who then took over the project and delivered the original Macintosh to market 2 years later. [Dana Baggett]

TurboTax for Mac State Downloads Now Available according to Dana Baggett, our New England Editor. "My state [Maine] TurboTax for Mac download was forecast to be available on February 10 according to this Intuit site which we posted earlier. Today I checked from within the application and was pleasantly surprised to find my state download available now!"

Pepsi Super Bowl Ad Strategy Posted by Apple on this Apple web page. Pepsi will sponsor 5 ads in total, including the Apple iTunes 100 million song giveaway ad.

Apple Updated the Hot Deals Offerings from ClubMac:

ClubMac has great deals on a variety of essential products for your Mac, including Edirol PCR-30 32-key MIDI Keyboard Controller, LaCie 160GB FW400/FW800/USB 2.0 External Hard Drive, GVP Storage XV Series 120GB FireWire External Hard Drive, Nikon CoolPix 5700 Digital Camera with a $100 mail-in rebate, Hewlett Packard 3700 Color LaserJet Printer, Thursby Software Dave 5, and much more.

From the Dark Side--Apple Opportunity, Many Small Businesses Afraid of Microsoft according to this ZDNet article. A survey of 600 companies with 500 employees or less found that 43% are concerned about being dependent on Microsoft and its services and a whopping 72% want to reduce Microsoft's dominance of their IT activities. [Dana Baggett]

-- Wednesday, January 28 --

Hands-On Report--Enabling WPA Security on Your AirPort Extreme Base Station: As we reported yesterday, Apple released AirPort Sofware v3.3 and Extreme Base Station Firmware v5.3. The main feature of the release is that it enables the ability of original AirPort cards to use Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) security in place of the older less secure WEP with AirPort Extreme Base Stations, something that only the new AirPort Extreme cards have been able to do until now. So if you have Macs on a wireles network with a mixture of original and Extreme AirPort cards or just original AirPort cards, you can now move up from WEP to WPA.

WPA has two modes, Personal Mode and Enterprise Mode. What is the difference? According to Apple:

Enterprise mode is designed for a larger network where an IT professional is most likely setting up and managing the network. In order to set up a WPA Enterprise network, an 802.1X connection must be set up first in Internet Connect. The 802.1X connection requires an authentication protocol, such as TTLS, LEAP, or PEAP. It also requires an authentication server to manage network users' credentials and certificates.

Personal mode is for the home or small office network and can be set up and managed by most users. Personal mode does not require a separate authentication server. Users of the network usually need only enter a user name and password to join the network.

So WPA Personal Mode is for us. We have been using 128-bit WEP security for our wireless network on an AirPort Extreme Base Station because it has a 700 MHz iBook and G4 Cube that both use the original AirPort card. We also have 17" and 12" PowerBook G4s that use the newer AirPort Extreme card. WEP, even at 128 bits, is relatively easily compromised by a determined hacker so we are glad that the tougher WPA is now available.

Enabling WPA on your AirPort Extreme Base Station and Macs is simple. First, update each Mac (including iMacs, PowerBooks and iBooks of course) with AirPort 3.3 and then update the firmware in your AirPort Extreme Base Station to v5.3 with the AirPort software released yesterday. Then follow these steps for personal WPA mode:

  1. Open AirPort Admin Utility, select your base station, and click "Configure".
  2. Click "Show All Settings", and then click "Change Wireless Security" in the AirPort pane.
  3. Choose "WPA Personal" from the Wireless Security pop-up menu.
  4. Choose "Password" from the pop-up menu and enter an ASCII password of 8 to 63 ASCII characters. You can also choose Pre-Shared Key to enter a hexadecimal password of exactly 64 hexadecimal characters.
  5. Click the "Update" button.

We used the same password that we had been using with our 128-bit WEP, not an good idea from a strict security perspective, but we've had no hack-ins so far. When we tried to reconnect after rebooting, we had to reselect the network name in the AirPort menu and click on a change to our keychain in the dialog box that popped up. All four Macs, with original and Extreme AirPort cards, reconnected seamlessly.

Tom Bihn Celebrates Mac's 20th Anniversary with 20% Discount on his great product line of cases, bags, backpacks and sleeves for PowerBooks. Tom Bihn, a Mac fanatic, has a great product line--see our review. We liked the Empire Builder bag and BrainCell cases so much that we bought them for our 17" and 12" PowerBook G4s. From their note to us:

At Tom Bihn, we're longtime Mac fanatics, from our iPods to our iMacs.
So what better excuse to offer a coupon than the 20th anniversary of the Mac? Fellow Mac fans are welcome to use the coupon code APPLE20 to receive 20% off any Tom Bihn product. The coupon is valid for one week from 01/28/04 - 02/04/04.

BBEdit 7.1.2 Updater is Out and available for download from Bare Bones Software. BBEdit is our favorite text editor. Here are the v7.1.2 release notes.

DiskWarrior 3.0.1 Update is Out and available from Alsoft. If you have a Mac released after August 2003 you need to order an updated CD. If not and it boots off 10.2.x, you can download an updater and burn a new CD yourself.

Federal Agencies Looking to Adopt Virginia Tech G5 Super Computer Technology according to this eeTimes article. [Dana Baggett]

-- Tuesday, January 27 --

Apple's AirPort Software v3.3 with AirPort Extreme Base Station Firmware v5.3 is available for download via the Software Update preference panel and as a standalone installer. According to the ReadMe file,

This software update provides improved AirPort wireless networking software, and is recommended for all users with an AirPort Extreme and AirPort enabled computer or an AirPort Extreme base station.

New AirPort Extreme Features:

This software provides support for the Wi-Fi Protected Access™ (WPA) specification for the AirPort Extreme base station and AirPort Extreme and AirPort clients. Please see AirPort Help for more information on WPA. Also included in this release is v5.3 of the AirPort Extreme base station firmware. Instructions for updating the base station firmware can also be found in AirPort Help.

The AirPort Extreme base station and AirPort Extreme client are Wi-Fi Certified™ for 802.11b and 802.11g interoperability.

We updated a number of Macs, Extreme and original, and an Apple Extreme Base Station with no ill effects. We areusing 128-bit WEP security but this update will let us enable the more secure WPA security on our network with mixed 802.11b (AirPort) and 802.11g (AirPort Extreme) Macs. [Dana Baggett]

From the Dark Side--Panther's Exposé Copied for Windows in an application called WinPLOSION. We're only surprised that it took this long. Exposé is the new application in Mac OS X 10.3.x that allows one to see the desktop or all open windows or all windows of the front-most application using the function keys or screen corners. [Jim Duncan]

More Details on Apple's Security Update 2004-1-26 released yesterday afternoon. It's available via the Software Update preference panel and as a standalone installer:

Mail is updated to 1.3.3 Build 612 and Safari is updated to 1.1.1 Build 100.1. Here are the details from Apple:

  • AFP Server: Improves AFP over the 2003-12-19 security update.
  • Apache 1.3: Fixes CAN-2003-0542, a buffer overflow in the mod_alias and mod_rewrite modules of the Apache webserver.
  • Apache 2: Fixes CAN-2003-0542 and CAN-2003-0789 by updating Apache 2.0.47 to 2.0.48. Installed only on Server systems.
  • Classic: Fixes CAN-2004-0089 to improve the handling of environment variables. Credit to Dave G. of @stake for reporting this issue.
  • Mail: Fixes CAN-2004-0085 and CAN-2004-0086 to deliver security enhancements to Apple's mail application. Credit to Jim Roepcke for reporting CAN-2004-0086.
  • Safari: Fixes CAN-2004-0092 by delivering security enhancements tothe Safari web browser.
  • System Configuration: Fixes CAN-2004-0087 and CAN-2004-0088 where the SystemConfiguration subsystem allowed remote non-admin users to change network setting and make configuration changes to configd. Credit to Dave G. from @stake for reporting these issues.
  • Windows File Sharing: Fixes CAN-2004-0090 where Windows file sharing did not shutdown properly.

FWB's Premier Utility Applications' Source Code For Sale: The source code for Hard Disk ToolKit, CD-ROM ToolKit and DriveUp! 98 is for sale according to a note from FWB's president, Mark Hurlow. However, he adds:

"FWB has no plans at this time to cease operations. We are fully committed to our customers, products, and the Macintosh platform. Our intention is to continue to innovate and continue sales and support at the level of excellence that we always have."

If interested, contact Hurlow at this email address.

Apple Updated Two Hot Deals Retailer Offerings:

CompUSA has huge savings and valuable rebates on a wide variety of products for your Mac, including Samsung ML-1710 Laser Printer with $70 mail-in rebate, Epson Stylus C84 Color Inkjet Printer with $20 mail-in rebate, space.com Starry Night Enthusiast with $10 mail-in rebate, Block Financial TaxCut Premium with $10 mail-in rebate, Epson Perfection 2400 Photo Scanner with $30 mail-in rebate, and much more.

Inside Mac Games has great deals on the hottest game titles for your Mac, including Rayman 3: Hoodlum Havoc, Total Immersion Racing, Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness, Wakeboarding Unleashed, Toysight, Tom Clancy's Raven Shield, Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, Age of Mythology, and many more.

MacUpdate to Give Away an iPod Mini to one of those who provide review comments on their software update listings. For the next two weeks, MacUpdate staff will examine every user review posted and by February 8th they will hand-pick the person that they think posted the highest quality and most useful user reviews to the MacUpdate web site. Make sure you leave your name and email with the review so MacUpdate can contact you when you win.

From the Dark Side II--Mydoom (Novarg) Worm Running Rampant on PCs not Macs according to this Yahoo News article. It propagates through a mail attachment. Fortunately, Macs are immune according to Symantec. [Dana Baggett]

-- Monday, January 26 --

[Update 4:20p EST] Apple Released Security Update 2004-1-26 v1.0 and it is available for download via the Software Update preference pane. According to the ReadMe file:

Security Update 2004-01-26 delivers a number of security enhancements and is recommended for all Macintosh users. This update includes the following components:

Apache 1.3
Windows File Sharing

Additionally, Security Update 2003-12-19 has been incorporated into this security update. Those components are:

AFP Server
ASN.1 Decoding for PKI
Directory Services
System Initialization

[Bob Manka]

Hands-On Review--PowerLogix 1.4-GHz G4 Upgrade, Fastest G4 Cube on the Planet: PowerLogix recently released its PowerForce G4 1.4-GHz CPU upgrade based on Motorola's new, lower power 7457 series G4 CPU. The 7457 uses less energy and produces less heat so it is ideal for the Power Mac G4 Cube. The 7457 also has a large 512K L2 cache and 2-MB L3 cache--here are Motorola's technical specifications.

Our Super Cube has been upgraded with 1-GB RAM, a fast 80-GB 7200 RPM Seagate Barracuda IV hard drive, a GeForce 3 graphics card and a PowerLogix 1.2 GHz G4 CPU upgrade. Because of all the upgrades, our Cube also has a Panasonic Panaflo low-speed quiet fan in its base. We plan to keep our Super Cube (we actually have several) running as fast as it can for as long as it can. While we have, and have had, many Macs, we think at least two of our Macs deserve to be preserved forever, the G4 Cube and the PowerBook 2400c--both are elegant engineering marvels. When PowerLogix released the 7457-based 1.4 GHz upgrade for the Cube we got one, installed it and ran it through our speed tests.

The PowerLogix 1.4 GHz G4 upgrade for the Cube comes with a quiet, low-speed Panasonic Panaflo fan plus two CDs and a DVD. The discs include installation instructions as a PDF file and as a video and a CD with a firmware patch. You must install the firmware patch before installing the new CPU. We had no problems installing the firmware patch or the CPU card since we have done it many times before--see here and here. PowerLogix makes it relatively easy with good instructions and the excellent video.

So how fast is it? We ran our standard speed tests consisting of several "canned" benchmarks and several so-called "real world" speed tests. The tests are explained in detail in this review of our Cube's first CPU upgrade, an 800-MHz PowerLogix PowerForce G4. They are easy to perform on your own computer for comparative purposes. Here are the results which include the tests for a completely stock 450-MHz G4 Cube 450, our Super Cube with a 1.2-GHz PowerLogix 7455 G4, our Super Cube with the new 1.4-GHz PowerLogix 7457 G4 (in red) and our Dual 2-GHz Power Mac G5.

Speed Tests (average scores or secs) using Mac OS X 10.3.2
G5 Dual
Altivec Fractal 1.1.3 (GFLOPS)
Cinebench 2003 - Rendering
- OpenGL Hardware Lighting
Let1kWindowsBloom 1.0 (sec)
Xbench 1.1.3 - CPU
- Threading
- Memory
- Quartz Graphics
- OpenGL Graphics
- User Interface Graphics
- Hard Disk
"Real World" Tests:
Startup (sec)*
Shutdown (sec)
Launch Classic Mode (sec)
Copy 160 MB File (sec)
Copy 700 MB Folder 3600 Files (sec)
Scroll 142p Acrobat Reader File (sec)
Encode MP3 in iTunes 3.0.1 (sec)
Export QT Movie in iMovie 3.0.1 (sec)
Quake III Arena 1.32 (frames/sec)

*After applying SpeedStart.

The new 1.4-GHz upgrade has a clock speed that is about 17% faster than the older 1.2-GHz model. Most of the CPU-related "canned" benchmarks show a 12-17% increase in speed. The so-called "real world" tests show somewhat smaller speed gains, the best being the framerate for the 3D game Quake III Arena at 12.5%.

We are pleased with the performance of PowerLogix's new 7457-based G4 CPU upgrade. It's the fastest G4 Cube on the planet! We are also very pleased to report that so far our Cube with the new 1.4-GHz CPU has NOT displayed the wake from sleep problem that has plagued many of our previous upgrades. Unless PowerLogix releases dual G4 CPU upgrades for the Cube, this may be about as fast as the G4 Cube will get as Apple moves its models to the newer G5 CPU made by IBM. (PowerLogix PowerForce G4 Series 100 1.4-GHz, MSRP $599)

What's Your (Mac) Story? This week on Your Mac Life: From Shawn King, host of Your Mac Life,

"While Apple isn't celebrating the 20th Anniversary of the introduction of mthe Macintosh, the Mac Community certainly wants to. So, to help with that, we are going to dedicate a good portion of this week's Your Mac Life show to 'Our Mac Story'. Send yours to <onair@yourmaclife.com> or post it in our forums."

"It doesn't matter if you bought a Mac the day they were introduced or last week, tell us how you got involved in using a Mac and how it has changed and affected your life. We'll read the best ones on the air!"

Tune in on Wednesday 8:30p ET (5:30p PT).

Serial Number Organizer v1, Keep Track of Application Serial Numbers FREE with this freeware Filemaker Pro application from PrettyCoolSolutions.

This is a simple database with one job—maintaining a record of serial numbers and associated information. Built using Filemaker Pro™, Serial Number Organizer is a bound, single-user runtime. (You can use it without owning Filemaker Pro™).

Serial Number Organizer is especially useful when you need to reinstall. On one screen, you can view all the versions you own. Use the COPY button to put a serial number into your clipboard and simply paste when prompted for the serial number! When installing an Upgrade version, your original serial number is just a click away. No more fumbling through stacks of manuals and disks to find that last number.

The Mac's 20th Anniversary Heralded in Business Week in this article that will appear on February 2nd. [Dana Baggett]

-- Weekend, January 24-25 --

[Update 1:30p EST 1/24] CNN QuickVote Poll, Mac or PC Fan--Vote Today! cnn.com, scroll down to the bottom right. The poll was running 18% Mac when we voted just before posting this article.

[Update Noon EST 1/24] From the Dark Side--Federal Judge Approves of M$ Sloth and Limit-Pushing Behavior under Antitrust Settlement: On Friday, federal and state prosecutors complained to Judge Coleen Kollar-Kotelly that Microsoft is being excessively slow in living up to the settlement terms in it antitrust conviction and has still been doing things that are proscribed by the agreement, the most obvious dealing with Windows XP and it's music shopping feature that only launches Internet Explorer no matter which browser the user has chosen. While the Judge made references to things not going as fast as anticipated according to this Washington Post article, she basically refused to take any action against Microsoft and stated general pleasure with the progress of the settlement. Hey, maybe she could help NASA by appearing on TV and explaining how pleased she is with the progress of the Mars probe Spirit. [Dana Baggett]

Happy 20th Birthday, Mac! Will there be any Apple announcements today? Maybe not since the Macworld announcements are still reverberating and the Pepsi/Apple free 100 million songs Super Bowl ad is next Sunday. Still, it's the Mac's 20th.... [Update: Mac OS Rumors reported late yesterday that 20-oz Pepsi bottles with free iTunes songs had shown up already in King of Prussia, PA. We just scoured our local grocery stores, gas stations and 7-11s in Northern VA and found none.]

Free PDF of "iLife '04: The Missing Manual" Preview by David Pogue is available for download from the NCMUG. This is the 50-page sneak preview version of the coming full book on iLife '04 by David Pogue from O'Reilly. We found it to be extremely helpful with the new GarageBand application. [Update: Apple's GarageBand manuals as PDF files are located in this KBase article.]

Two New Game Demos for Weekend Downloading:

Feral Interactive's Rayman3 Demo (121 MB)

Aspyr's Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy Demo (186 MB)

We downloaded and played both. Jedi Academy is outstanding!

Apple Updated Offerings from Two Hot Deals Retailers:

J&R has great deals on essential Mac products, including Pinnacle Systems Dazzle Hollywood DV-Bridge for Mac, Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0, Adobe Photoshop CS Upgrade, Aspyr Media The Sims Combo Pack, Blizzard Diablo Battlechest, Brother MFC-3220C Color Multifunction Center with $30 mail-in rebate, Canon ZR-70MC MiniDV Digital Camcorder, and much more.

MacZone has money-saving prices on a bevy of products for your Mac, including Canon PowerShot S50 5MP Digital Camera with $100 rebate, Intuit TurboTax Deluxe for Mac with $10 mail-in rebate, Adobe InDesign CS PageMaker Edition, Peripheral Enhancements Edge 128MB Premium CompactFlash Card with $15 mail-in rebate, Acomdata 60GB 7200RPM External FireWire/USB 2.0 Hard Drive with $20 mail-in rebate, Roxio Toast 6 Titanium with $20 mail-in upgrade rebate, and much more.

-- TGIF, January 23 --

The Mac Turns 20 Tomorrow, Saturday, January 24th. Tomorrow marks the 20th anniversary of the release of Apple's Macintosh personal computer to the world as introduced in the 1984 Super Bowl ad. The ad, with a slight modification of adding an iPod to the hammer-throwing model's waist, was shown at Macworld Expo during Steve Jobs' keynote address--here it is side-by-side with the original. Will Apple release anything new on the Mac's 20 birthday? Things have been pretty quiet but we'll have to wait and see.

Maine has Funds for Extending iBook Program to 9th Grade according to this Portland Press Herald article. Macs Only! was first to break the news on the extension of Maine's program to high school last Saturday. While details of Gov. Baldacci's plans call for local school district contributions, the Maine Department of Education has $28 million in leftover project funds and the iBook program is estimated to cost $22 million per grade so a majority, if not all, of the funds exist already. [Dana Baggett]

O'Reilly Released Security Warrior: Based on the principle that the best way to defend yourself is to understand your attacker in depth, Security Warrior (O'Reilly, US $44.95) by Cyrus Peikari and Anton Chuvakin reveals how your systems can be threatened.

Griffin Technology Announced Total Remote 2.0: Griffin Technology announced Total Remote 2.0, a completely rewritten version of Total Remote, remote control software for Pocket PC. This free software update adds CCF support. That means Total Remote users can now use any of the thousands of free presets written for the Philips Pronto-based remote controls. It also adds complete Macro editing and customizing capabilities. With the same capabilities as the far more expensive Pronto style remotes, Total Remote paired with a Pocket PC makes a very cost effective complete Universal Remote Control for even the most sophisticated of Home Theater systems. This software update, shipping with all new versions of Total Remote and recommended for all current users of Total Remote, is available immediately for download.

Tonight on The Mac Night Owl LIVE are Dr. Mac and Symantec: This week, The Mac Night Owl LIVE's host Gene Steinberg will talk to the one and only "Dr. Mac," Bob LeVitus, the best-selling author of over 40 books. Nancy Mohler, product manager for Symantec's Mac products, will discuss the infuriating world of computer viruses. Tune in at 9p ET (6p PT).

.mac Members Get $30 Keynote Discount and Free Themes according to the .mac web site. Keynote is Apple's premier presentation software that costs $99 before the .mac member discount. We downloaded the free themes and they are great additions to the standard Keynote themes.

From the Dark Side--We May All Be Doomed if Microsoft is successful in its attempt to take a primary role in homeland security as described in this Yahoo News article. [Kevin Stacy]

-- Thursday, January 22 --

Apple May Move NE Repair Center to Maine Community Colleges according to Maine Governor John Baldacci's State of the State address:

"Our education technology partnership with Apple Computer is leading to another opportunity. Apple is working with us to establish their northeastern repair center with our Community Colleges and others. This will provide more opportunity for skilled worker development."

Maine is becoming THE Mac State! [Dana Baggett]

Australian Defense Department Using Apple Xserve Cluster to simulate battle scenarios according to this Computerworld article. Meanwhile, the "brilliant" U.S. Defense Department continues to use Swiss-cheese Microsoft software in their military ships! [Dana Baggett]

Apple Posted Pepsi/Songs Giveaway Rules: As Steve Jobs announced during his Macworld keynote address, starting February 1st Apple and Pepsi Cola Corp. will begin giving away 100 million free songs from Apple's iTunes Music Store among 300 million specially marked bottles of Pepsi and Sierra Mist:

"Look for game piece printed underneath bottle caps on specially marked 'iTunes' 20 oz. and 1 liter bottles of Pepsi, Diet Pepsi and Sierra Mist and under the rim of specially marked 32 oz. fountain cups available at participating 7-11 convenience stores during the Promotion Period."

The giveaway will last until March 31 or until all of the promotional bottles of Pepsi are sold. Apple set up a dedicated web page for the promotion and posted the detailed rules. At the web page one can sign up for email notices about the promotion.

We're going to be drinking a lot of Pepsi in the next couple of months.

Apple Updated Numerous Hot Deals Retailers' Offerings:

MacWarehouse has great deals on a wide variety of products for your Mac, including El Gato EyeTV, D-Link DI-624 Xtreme G 108Mbps Wireless Router, Kensington StudioMouse Wireless Mouse, Belkin Auto Kit for iPod, Hewlett Packard DeskJet 9300 Color Printer, Microtek ScanMaker i300 Flatbed Scanner with $20 mail-in rebate, Sony CyberShot DSC-P92 Digital Camera with $55.55 mail-in rebate, and much more.

CDW has money-saving deals on a bevy of Mac products, including Exabyte VXA-2 FireWire Tape Drive, Palm Tungsten C Handheld Device, Nikon CoolPix 5700 Digital Camera with $100 mail-in rebate, Canon Optura 300 MiniDV Camcorder, Dantz Retrospect 5.1 for Mac, LaCie d2 200GB External FireWire Hard Drive, Sony 42" PFM 42V1/B PlasmaPro Display, Keyspan Presentation Remote, Macromedia Director MX, and much more.

ClubMac has great pricing on essential Mac products, including Epson Stylus Photo R300M Color Inkjet Printer, Xerox Phaser 8400 Color Solid Ink Printer, MacPlay Activision Anthology of over 75 classic Atari 2600 games, Bias Peak LE, MacSense HomePod Wireless Network Music System, MegaVision MV173 17" LCD Flat Panel Display, Monster Cable iCarPlay Cassette Adapter for iPod, and much more.

Ramjet has great deals on a wide variety of products with which to upgrade your Mac, including Ramjet 1GB USB 1.1/2.0 Flash Drive, Ramjet 1GB DDR400 RAM Kit for Power Mac G5, Ramjet 1GB RAM Kit for Aluminum PowerBook G4, Ramjet External 200GB FireWire Hard Drive, and much more.

Other World Computing has great deals on a bevy of Mac products, including ADS Pyro A/V Link, TechWorks 512MB RAM Kit for PowerBook G4 12"/15"/17", MacAlly iOptiNet Jr. USB Optical Mouse, M-Audio Transit Mobile Audio Upgrade, Griffin PowerPod Auto-Adapter for iPod, OWC Neptune 40GB 7200RPM External FireWire Hard Drive with Dantz Retrospect and Intech HD Speedtools, NewerTech High-capacity 65 Watt Hour Battery for all PowerBook G4 15" Titanium Models, and much more.

-- Wednesday, January 21 --

Maine Governor's State of the State Address Confirms Plan to Extend iBooks to High School, a plan that we were first to break last Saturday on Macs Only! Governor John Baldacci's address praised the state's iBook program as providing the "opportunity for 21st century jobs". Here is the full State of the State address. Currently, all 7th and 8th graders and their teachers get iBooks supplied by the state for classroom use, projects and homework. Due to the program's success, the Governor will propose that the program be extended to 9th graders this fall. [Dana Baggett]

Rayman 3 Demo was Released by Feral Interactive. The game's demo is a whopping 121 MB and is hosted on MacGameFiles.

Microsoft Settled Music Download Patent Infringement Lawsuit with E-Data Systems. They hold a European patent that "...covers the downloading of information onto a tangible object such as a CD...." according to this ZDNet article. The settlement may cause problems for a European version of Apple's iTunes Music Store. [Dana Baggett]

From the Dark Side--M$ Repents on MikeRoweSoft.com-Gate saying that they may have been overly aggressive in defending Microsoft's trademark according to this ZDNet article as we reported yesterday. It quotes a M$ spokesperson,

"We appreciate that Mike Rowe is a young entrepreneur who came up with a creative domain name. We take our trademark seriously, but maybe a little too seriously in this case."

We'll say. [Dana Baggett]

-- Tuesday, January 20 --

Bar Harbor, Maine, iBook Program Extends to 6th Grade through a private donation according to this article. Maine's iBook program applies to all 7th and 8th graders and could be extended to grades 9-12 this fall. [Dana Baggett]

GarageBand is Hope of Musical Instrument Makers according to this Reuters article. Musical instrument sales are on an upswing and GarageBand offers a significant chance to accelerate sales. [Dana Baggett]

Halo 1.0.3 Updater is Out and available for download via MacUpdate.com. According to MacUpdate the Halo 1.0.3 Updater adds the following major items:

  • Mac Halo is now compatible with PC Halo multiplayer games for version 1.02 and 1.03.
  • A new "NV Shaders" rasterizer path has been added for players with nVidia GeForce 3 Ti, GeForce 4 Ti, or GeForce 5200 fx video hardware and Mac OS X 10.3 (Panther). Players with these configurations will notice a dramatic change in image quality when using this new feature. Earlier versions of Halo only supported advanced shader capabilities on graphics cards made by ATI.
  • Many Full-screen anti-aliasing (FSAA) glitches have been fixed for use in Mac OS 10.3.2.
  • Servers now have a complete team killing / banning system that should significantly reduce team killing online.
  • Servers’ name now supports 65 characters for dedicated servers and 32 characters for client-hosted servers and now accepts an extended character set.

Mac Halo is now fully compatible with the PC version for online play. [Brian Nakamoto]

Apple's iCal 1.5.2 is Out and available for download via the Software Update preference panel or as a standalone updater. It gives you the option of viewing your calendar, event, or To Do information in a drawer or in a separate window, and includes a number of performance and reliability enhancements. Apple advises that if you use iSync to synchronize your calendars across computers and devices, you need to upgrade each computer to iSync 1.2 (or later) and iCal 1.5.2. iSync 1.3 came with Panther (10.3.2). [Dana Baggett]

Optimizing with Apple's Shark Developer's Tool--Big Payoff, Small Effort: Developers who spend a few hours with the Shark performance tool on Mac OS X may be able to realize significant performance improvements in their application. Shark is one of the free developer tools that come with Mac OS X 10.3 Panther, and one of the most valuable for developers. This article guides the reader through the sampling of a real application with Shark, and shows how to improve performance--as much as 2 or 3 times or more--in a few hours by using the information provided by the Shark tool.

Apple Updated Their Hot Deals Retailers' Offerings:

Sweetwater has great deals on a wide variety of audio products for your Mac, including Digidesign Digi002 Rack, a complete recording, editing, mixing, mastering, and delivery solution; Tapco S-5 bi-amped desktop monitor speakers; MOTU Micro Lite USB powered professional 5x5 80-channel MIDI interface; Native Instruments B4; MOTU MachFive; IK Multimedia T-Racks 24, and much more.

O'Reilly has money-saving deals on a variety of it's highly-popular book titles, including "Learning Unix for Mac OS X Panther," "Office X for Macintosh: The Missing Manual," "Mac OS X Hacks," "Mac OS X: The Missing Manual, Panther Edition," "Mac OS X Unwired," and more.

Bluetooth to Take Off in 2004 according to this article. [Dana Baggett]

From the Dark Side--M$ to Legally Pound a Teenager: According to this article, Microsoft is planning to sue a Canadian teenager Mike Rowe over the name of his web site, mikerowesoft.com. Mike Rowe is a teenage web designer and the richest man on the planet plans to crush him. Where is a bucket...? [Dana Baggett]

-- Weekend/Monday, January 17-19 --

Note: We are observing the national holiday, Dr. Martin Luther King Day, and will resume our regular publishing schedule on Tuesday. -Editor

[Update 5p ET 1/17] SCOOP--Maine iBook Program Extending to High Schools starting this fall with the 9th grade according to a Macs Only! source within Maine's school system. The iBook program will then expand to grades10-12 for the following year.

It appears that the decision was made on Friday. The superintendent in our source's district called the school principal right away so the good news could be announced to the school. This will seriously change the way that Maine's high school students are educated and will place many Macs into many otherwise PC-only schools.

Macs Only! was the first internet publication to break the news about Maine's iBook program for all 7th and 8th graders and their teachers over 2 years ago.

[Update 10a ET 1/17] Mozilla Development Roadmap Extends to 2.0: Mozilla, the open source web browser suite, stands at version 1.6 with the release earlier this week. Now, according to MozillaZine, the developers have posted a newsgroup message outlining a roadmap that extends to version 2.0 for Mozilla. There will be a heavy focus on the standalone applications, Firebird and Thundertbird. [Dana Baggett]

Check Your iLife '04 Box Before Leaving the Store: From David Gregory,

I just got back from a 50+ mile round trip to pick up the iLife suite and opened the box to find 2 CDs without iDVD and GarageBand and NO DVD for units with a DVD drive. As soon as I found out I called the store and they are holding me a copy of their rapidly dwindling supply of iLife for exchange so I get to make another 50+ mile round trip. Apple seems to be letting quality go these days, rushing to ship rather than assuring quality. If it happened to me I bet there are more boxes out there like mine.

We ordered iLife '04 from The Apple Store on line. It should arrive Tuesday.

Apple GarageBand Jam Pack Artwork Misleading: From Andy Grobengieser,

I just received shipment of GarageBand and the Jam Pack upgrade. Just wanted to let other readers know that though the Jam Pack artwork (on the packaging and the install DVD) pictures a clarinet and a french horn, neither of these instruments are to be found anywhere within the software. In fact, Jam Pack appears to be all about extra loops and NOT about new software instruments. I must say, a big disappointment given the $99 dollars I spent on it.

[Update] Several readers pointed out that Apple does advertise Jam Pack as having "over 100" additional software instruments. From the Apple Store description:

Over 100 Software Instruments
With a USB or MIDI keyboard, you can play and record using hundreds of additional instruments including a new grand piano, 12 string guitars, vibraphones, additional drum sets, new organs, electric pianos, synthesizers, and basses.

Maybe a missing DVD in the box?

Apple Updated A Couple of Their Hot Deals Retailers' Offerings:

AudioMIDI has great money-saving deals on a wide variety of audio products for your Mac, including Evolution UC33e USB Hardware Controller with 33 pre-set configurations, Native Instruments FM7, MOTU Digital Performer 4, Event Electronics TR6 Monitor Speakers, Auralex MoPAD, Tascam US122 with FREE Sennheiser 815sc Microphone, Sennheiser HD202 Headphones, MOTU 896HD, and much more.

Outpost has a bevy of great deals on essential Mac products, including Intuit TurboTax Deluxe for Mac, MacSoft Halo: Combat Evolved, Maxtor 200GB and 250GB One-Touch FireWire External Hard Drives with $30 mail-in rebate, Canon i560 Color BubbleJet USB Printer with $10 mail-in rebate, Microsoft Office X Student and Teacher Edition, MacAlly IcePad, Adobe Photoshop CS Upgrade, Roxio Toast 6 Titanium with $20 mail-in rebate, and much more.

Intuit TurboTax for Mac Update is Out: A product update is available for TurboTax for Mac from within the application. What's in it is explained here. [Dana Baggett]

Massacheusetts Continues to Doggedly Pursue Microsoft Antitrust Lawsuit according to this PC World article. The suit notes that M$ has not mended its ways citing Windows XP defaulting to Internet Explorer when downloading music despite the user selecting another default web browser. M$ has agreed to remove this feature. [Dana Baggett]

TiVo Updated TiVo Desktop for iPhoto 4, part of iLife '04: The update is here. But TiVo users are still waiting for AAC, particularly FairPlay AAC, support. [Brian Nakamoto]

-- TGIF, January 16 --

[Update 3:30p ET] Tonight on The Mac Night Owl LIVE is Ted Landau, founder of MacFixit.com and author of Mac troubleshooting books, and a representative from Hewlett Packard. Ted will discuss his visit to Microsoft's Mac Business Unit and the HP rep will discuss the HP-Apple iPod deal with host Gene Steinberg. Tune in at 9p ET (6p PT).

iBooks Allow Maine Students to Investigate the State's Past via DiscoverME. According to this article:

While Maine's laptop initiative makes history, it also makes the study of Maine history more engaging. Using the laptops and Maine's powerful Internet connectivity, DiscoverME is helping students and teachers achieve Maine's Learning Results.

As some 1,500 students already know, DiscoverME is the Center for Educational Services' newest initiative. From late October through December 2003, over 35 teachers led their students on an interactive journey of discovery. Founded on specific performance indicators, DiscoverME delivers history curriculum over the Web.

What is DiscoverME? It is described on this web page as:

DiscoverME is a free, web-based educational program that enables 7th and 8th grade students to explore their state's history, geography, economics, government, and more! DiscoverME offers innovative, outcome-based activities that support the achievement of Maine Learning Results. DiscoverME's 2004 Discover Diversity spring unit begins on March 17th and focuses on Maine's cultural and ethnic heritage. Content and activities center around the question: “What does it mean to be a Mainer?”

[Dana Baggett]

Mozilla 1.6 Final is Out and available for download. Here is a direct link to the ftp server. It includes a new cross-platform NTLM authentication module, security improvements, and crash fixes. Here are the changes:

  • One of the most requested Mozilla Mail features, an option to separate the Recipient and Sender columns in the thread pane, has been implemented.
  • Another frequently requested MailNews feature, a preference for placing the user's signature above the quoted text, has been added.
  • "Remove from server after x days" has been implemented for POP3 mail accounts.
  • vCard support has been added to Mozilla Mail.
  • Mozilla 1.6 includes a new cross-platform NTLM authentication mechanism. This feature brings NTLM authentication to the non-Windows Mozilla users for the first time and also delivers more robust and featureful NTLM support to users of older Windows versions.
  • Ask Jeeves searching has been added to Mozilla 1.6.
  • "Translate Page" functionality has returned to this release of Mozilla.
  • The View Source window now has reload functionality.
  • Several security-related bugs were fixed in 1.6
  • Chatzilla 0.9.48 has been merged, which adds RPL_ISUPPORT support, halfop mode support, and properly masks key and password dialogs.
  • Many crash bugs have been fixed.
  • One step closer to the kitchen sink, about:about has been implemented. Typing about:about in the address field will give the user a nice list of available about:s.

See the release notes for more details. [Dana Baggett]

Aspyr Game Report: Mac game publisher Aspyr sent us the following status report on their games for the Mac:

1. Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy began shipping
2. Law & Order Dead on the Money is now shipping!
3. Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six Raven Shield for Mac is shipping.
4. Wakeboarding Unleashed Featuring Shaun Murray is now shipping!
5. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Angel of Darkness for Mac is shipping!
6. 007: Nightfire is at Alpha.
7. Command & Conquer Generals is at Alpha.
8. Aspyr announces The Sims Makin Magic expansion pack!
9. Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell is at Alpha.
10. Aspyr announces The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

-- Thursday, January 15 --

[Update 9:30a ET] AppleWorks 6.2.9 Updater is Out and available for download via MacUpdate.com.

AppleWorks 6.2.9 supports mice with scroll wheels and improves the performance and reliability of AppleWorks’ presentation and spreadsheet environments. AppleWorks 6.2.9 also offers improved printing and resolves issues using web based templates and clip-art on networks using proxy servers.

We downloaded the updater to the "Office Suite for the Rest of Us" and installed it with no apparent problems so far. [Dana Baggett]

New Apple Article--How to Use SSL for Network Security: Learn how to keep your network application information secure on Mac OS X Server. The Apple Developer Connection website has published a new article, the latest in its series on Mac OS X Server for small business LANs, that explains how to use the SSL protocol to provide a layer of public-key encryption on top of any TCP connection.

Apple's First Quarter Earnings Beat Consensus Estimate Once Again: Yesterday, Apple announced a profit of $63 million on revenue of over $2 billion for the first quarter of the 2004 fiscal year versus a loss of $8 million in the same quarter last year. Earnings were 17 cents per share as opposed to the 14-cent estimate that we noted on Monday.

Overall, the sales of Macs increased by 12% over the same quarter last year. PowerBooks and Power Macs were up significantly while iBooks were up slightly and iMacs were down significantly. iPods sales skyrocketed over 200% resulting in revenues of $256 million. The retail stores produced revenues of $273 million and finally an operating profit of $9 million. In regional sales, the improvement was greatest in Europe.

Here are further details in Apple's press release.

Apple Updated One of Their Hot Deals Retailers' Offerings:

MacConnection has a new batch of great deals on a wide variety of products for your Mac, including M-Audio FireWire Audiophile Compact Audio/MIDI Interface, M-Audio Ozone 25 Note MIDI Controller Keyboard, Artel Software Boris FX 7.0, Canopus ADVC-100 High-quality Bi-directional Analog/DV Converter, Logitech Cordless Notebook Mouse with $10 mail-in rebate, Micronet 160GB FireWire Titanium 7200RPM External Hard Drive with $20 mail-in rebate, M-Audio LX-4 Surround Sound Expandable Monitor Speaker System, and much more.

iPod Skin Case for New Mini iPods: Speck Products announced a newly designed rubberized skin for the recently announced and much anticipated Mini iPod. Apple introduced the new smaller form factor iPod at last week's MacWorld and has stated a mid-February ship date. The Speck Mini iPod Skin cases will be available at the same time.

"We are pretty confident that this will be the first case available for the new Mini iPods," said General Manager Tim Hickman. "Our engineering team started the design process within hours of Apple's announcement and arrived at our factory in China within 3 days to start fabrication. We simply went as fast as humanly possible so we can offer consumers protection for their new Mini iPods as soon as they get them."

The new Mini iPod Skins will provide protection for the new Mini iPod against dust, knocks, and scratches,while minimizing the bulk that most cases add. This skin-tight design is even more valuable for the new slimmed down iPod form factor. The case features a special shock-absorbing Dynaflex rubberized plastic construction, cutouts for the headphone, firewire port, and hold switch, and will be introduced in translucent colors inspired from the 5 new Mini iPod. The Mini iPod Skins will be sold in 3-Packs for $29.95 and individually for $19.95.

WiFi Network Sales Growth Over 200% in 2003 according to this ZDNet article. The popularity of this technology was kicked off by Apple's AirPort. [Dana Baggett]

From the Dark Side--Judge Upheld $512 Million Judgement Against M$ Internet Explorer Patent Infringement according to this ZDNet article. [Dana Baggett]

-- Wednesday, January 14 --

ATI Radeon 9800 Pro PC to Mac Conversion: From Eric Murphy, "Following up on my G5 Radeon 9600 article, this article follows my attempts in getting the PC 9800 Pro working in the Mac. While I have had success, the risks really outweigh any possible saving that can be gained by performing this modification. Hence this article is only for entertainment and information purposes only."

New Apple Enterprise IT Page Posted: Mac OS X is the ideal IT development platform: you can have your favorite cross-platform development tools and your favorite productivity applications running on the same UNIX-based machine. Check it out.

New Low-Cost Netscape ISP Doesn't Support Macs: It's disappointing that the new low-cost Netscape ISP subtly advertised on http://apple.netscape.com (the default homepage for Safari) by way of an eBay auction for netscape.com email addresses does not support Macs. (See: Mac user? Click Here.)

On the plus side, the way that they phrase their lack of current Mac support provides some hope that there will be Mac support in the future, perhaps if they get enough feedback from Mac users looking for an alternative to United Online. [Brian Nakamoto]

-- Tuesday, January 13 --

Apple's FileMaker Pro 6 Wins Best of Developer Tools for 2003 From PC Mag according to this Yahoo News article. FileMaker Pro 6 was also selected as a finalist for a 2004 Codie Award by the Software & Information Industry Association. [Dana Baggett]

HP IPod May Play WMA Format according to this ConnectedHomeMag article. While they erroneously called Windows Media Audio format "superior" to AAC, compatibility with WMA would help move lots of iPods in the Wintel world. But is Apple really on board? It means that the HP iPods would work with music services other than Apple's iTunes Music Store and use Microsoft's digital rights management technology. [Update: HP-Apple claim WMA is not in the cards according to this Macworld UK article.] [Brian Nakamoto]

Skowhegan, Maine, 7th Graders Win Award with iBooks: Here's another award-winning project from the Skowhegan, Maine seventh graders. They won the award from National Semi-Conductor for their Latin America Project. The teacher, Ms. Richter, comments:

"The goal here was to have the students write a clear essay (intro- body- conclusion) on a topic of choice regarding Latin American. Many were able to speak to people who live in these countries and others established an e-mail contact. After research, personal contacts, and lessons in essay writing, students created these webpages. I conducted lessons on the value of secondary as well as primary sources in their research."

This project illustrative of what kids can do under "The Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) [which] is the largest educational technology project in the history of Maine and perhaps the world." [Dana Baggett]

-- Monday, January 12 --

Explore Mars with NASA Scientists with Maestro 1.2.1 for Mac OS X which is available for download via MacUpdate. Check out the TelaScience web site for information on what's available on Mars via Maestro. It's cool and free. [Dana Baggett]

The Serious Games Summit at GDC 2004 coming up March 25-26. The Serious Games Summit is a two-day event at the upcoming Game Developers Conference covering the intersection of games, learning, policy, and management. Today, major corporations, government and military institutions, foundations, educators, and non-profits are turning to interactive technologies as an approach to problem solving. The result is a new field where computer and video games are applied to "serious" purposes rather than entertainment. This represents a growing financial outlet for game developers, where projects can produce a social return in addition to an economic one.

The Serious Games Summit agenda is designed to address areas of concern to professional developers who want to develop new business in this emerging market; educators and gaming advocates looking at new ways to utilize interactive game technologies; and representatives from corporations, the government and non-government organizations who are looking to fund and utilize game projects to advance specific needs.

Attendees of the Serious Games Summit will learn how extensive the application of games and game technology is and can be outside of the traditional use of entertainment. Attendees will also gain considerable hands-on insight on how to successfully launch new serious game projects and advance things beyond the experiments and pioneering endeavors that have taken place so far. This includes developers learning how to attack new markets, and potential users obtaining a much deeper level of understanding on how to make their projects, past, present, and future much more successful.

Ben Sawyer was the producer for The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's Virtual U project. He is the co-leader of the Serious Games Initiative, and works on a number of game-based projects via his Portland, ME based firm Digitalmill. His Op-Ed piece, "Gaming Our Way to Our Better Future," appeared in the June 2003 issue of Game Developer magazine. Sawyer is also the volunteer producer of the Serious Games Summit. Here is an interview with him:

Q. What kind of interactivity applications will attendees be seeing at the Serious Games Summit?

Ben Sawyer: I think people will be very surprised at the range of applications that have been developed or are in the process. We've collected a number of products from one on building homes, to another that helps people overcome phobias. The range of budgets, production values, content, and time-to-build is amazing and I think when developers see the opportunities that have happened and will happen they'll find a lot to be excited about.

Right now we're planning on showcasing five or six products during a show-and-tell session. More importantly, in between sessions there will be a lot of laptops open on tables with people demonstrating their products and ideas.

The Summit aims to do four things. First, we're throwing down the gauntlet. Games are here and they're capable of making this non-entertainment segment a true industry. Second, we're going to educate developers about how they can become successful serious game developers. Third, we're going to educate the customers. We're going to show them what games can do, and do really well, and we're going to show them past efforts that successfully solved problems. Finally, we're going to use this opportunity to not only make the industry healthier, but to make a better world.

Q. How do these games differ from entertainment products?

BS: Serious Games have a mission entirely apart from entertainment. The motivating factor can be to learn something, to analyze and explore an idea, to improve a skill, or to get healthier. This can involve entertainment as well but that's not the mission. I was once asked, why I was working on a game about university management? I said that if more people played Virtual U they might become better more enlightened managers. If in some way this meant that their institutions ran just that tiny bit better, a child would get a better education, be it one that was cheaper, or better run, or more enjoyable. The game was a means to a more purposeful end.

Serious game titles have needs for different distribution schemes, different business models, and different features. Sometimes the market also requires lower-specs because many potential users aren't running around with Alienware desktops. So there are unique needs and challenges, which is fun for developers who want a change of pace. We'll be covering all of this at the summit. Developers will get a crash course in a new business - the serious games business.

Q. Can you describe a scenario where the US government has used a serious game to solve specific problem?

BS: Absolutely. I'll describe one short one, and a longer one. The short one is America's Army. The office in charge of developing and promoting America's Army says the total cost is 1/3 of 1% of their total advertising budget and it's by far dollar-for-dollar the BEST money they've ever spent. People should get a true walk through of the game because until you do you don't have any idea how well it tells the story of what it means to be an Army infrantryman. The game codifies the Army's practices and honor principles and, as I've seen when I sat for a walk through, it really does make it easier for potential recruits to sit down and understand what is headed their way. Today, almost 20% of the Cadets at West Point have played America's Army before they got there. That's surely going up and I'd suspect on the regular grunt side the story is the same.

The longer story I'd tell is about a new product currently under development at Breakaway Games which is a well known commercial game house based in Hunt Valley, MD. Breakaway is doing a game called Incident Commander for the Justice Department, which will help municipalities and county governments around the country simulate virtual incidents like a chlorine gas spill, or a school shooting, and they must respond. You can block roads, call in EMTs, evacuate areas, call in federal agencies and more. Think of it as SimCity's disaster mode on steroids. Unlike basic training, which you can do without a computer, Incident Commander lets you simulate things that are hard to do in real life. Disaster drills are expensive to do and many localities can't afford them. 75% of the nations firefighters and EMTs are volunteer departments. For the first time, these people, people we count on daily to keep us safe, will be able to use a product from a game developer and practice their decision-making response skills in a game-like environment. I think we'll see an updated version at the Summit and Doug Whatley, CEO of Breakaway will be speaking on the design panel.

Q. What is the most interesting/offbeat use of a serious game application?

BS: There is a very interesting game I am sworn to secrecy on that I hope will be announced at or near the summit. To say a little more, I think it has the chance to help change the world as we know it.

I'm excited about some ideas we recently kicked around with the New York Fire Department which taught me how close we are to being able to take commercial games like Command & Conquer and mod them into useful game tools for various needs, be they public or corporate interest projects. There is an environmental detectives game, which is a PDA/Wi-Fi based application being developed at MIT.

As for offbeat, I'd say Catch-the-Sperm, which was done to promote AIDs awareness, was pretty offbeat when I first saw it. The VR Phobia center has modified Half-Life where you can go around and attack giant spiders and they use this to help people who have arachnophobia. When you hear about how phobias like this can truly create life problems for people, and how a game can change that, you realize offbeat to you and I is like a nail-on-the-head for someone else.

Let me finish with yet another story... Barry Joseph from Global Kids told me when he asked a bunch of kids to think of some serious games, one kid wanted to do a game about racial profiling at airports. That isn't offbeat but it definitely made me realize that the ideas people have can envelop so many diverse perspectives. In a time when people are concerned about the originality in games, maybe it will be serious projects that will give us games that strike new chords in our minds and hearts.

Apple to Release Video "iPod"? Who knows but in a recent interview posted in the Internetional Herald Tribune, Steve Jobs first threw cold water on the idea and then indicated that something like that just might be under development at Apple. [Dana Baggett]

Apple's Q1 Financial Results Teleconference is Wednesday at 5p EST (2p PST) and it will be webcast from this Apple web page. Earnings of 14 cents per share are expected according to this CNet article. [Dana Baggett]

Maine iBook Program Forming Student Tech Groups to assist other students and teachers in the middle school classrooms according to this Portland Press Herald article. The Maine iBook program, which Macs Only! broke two years ago, has provided iBooks to every 7th and 8th grader and their teachers throughout the entire state. It also includes AirPort wireless networks in all the schools, techincal support and training. As with the use of Apple equipment everywhere, no large and expensive dedicated IT staffs were needed to implement the program. Students are fulfilling the minimally needed helpdesk requirements by forming support teams themselves. Other school systems should be so smart. [Dana Baggett]

Keyspan Introduced Revolutionary USB Server for Macs. At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Keyspan announced its revolutionary USB Server that connects USB devices to a Mac or PC via a wired or wireless Ethernet-based LAN. Much like a USB print server, the USB Server enables attached USB devices to be used and shared by client PCs on a LAN. In addition to printers, the USB Server supports other USB devices such as hard drives, scanners, and more. The USB Device Server provides 4 ports for connecting to USB devices at Full Speed USB (12 Mbps). It connects to 10/100 Ethernet networks via an RJ45 connector and supports static IP, DHCP, and Apple's Rendezvous address assignment. Client Macs must be running Mac OS X 10.2.8 or higher. The USB Server will ship in late Q1 2004 with an MSRP of $129.

-- Weekend, January 10-11 --

Apple Updated its Hot Deals Web Site:

ClubMac has great deals on a wide variety of great products for your Mac, including Aspyr Media's Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy, M-Audio Keystation USB MIDI Keyboard, Macromedia Director FX Upgrade, Feral Interactive Bionicle the Game, Palm Computing Tungsten E Handheld, LaCie CD-RW External Drive, and much more.

MacMall has a bevy of great products at equally great prices, including NEC/Mitsubishi V50LCD-BK 15" Flat Panel Display, Griffin iTrip FM Transmitter for iPod, Freeverse Software ToySight, Speck Products iSport Customized iPod Waist Pack, Monster Cable iCase Travel Pack for iPod, Aspyr Media's Tom Clancy's Rainbow Six 3, and much more.

Running Mac OS X Panther Released by O'Reilly: According to O'Reilly, Apple has shown no mercy to the Macintosh power user--that dedicated individual who knows his or her machine thoroughly inside and out: what makes it tick, and what makes it tick better. In the rapid evolution of Mac OS X, there have been three major releases since its introduction in March 2001. Each new release challenges the power user to conquer the learning curve once more, and Mac OS X Panther is no exception. With more than 100 new features, including a new Finder, there's plenty to master. Fortunately, power users have a secret weapon in "Running Mac OS X Panther" (O'Reilly, US $39.95) by James Duncan Davidson. This book takes readers deep inside Mac OS X's core, revealing the inner workings of Panther for those who want to get the most out of their system.

Feral Announced XIII for the Mac: XIII is an first person shooter game with style, strong storyline, groundbreaking gameplay and innovative graphics. XIII sets off in search of his past. His only clues are the number 13 tattooed on his collarbone and the key to a safety-deposit box in one of New York's most prestigious banks. XIII marshals the power of Unreal II technology and unique comic-style visuals such as cell shading, flashback graphics, pop-up windows and visual sound effects. XIII Mac edition will be released from Feral Interactive during Q2 2004.

-- Friday, January 9 --

Apple to Sell iPods with Hewlett Packard Branding in a strategic alliance announced yesterday at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. In addition, iTunes will be shipped with consumer computers from HP with a link from the desktop. The link will allow direct access to Apple's on line iTunes Music Store for downloading songs. HP is one of the most respected brands in the PC-Wintel world for consumers and scientific applications so this deal is HUGE for Apple. Here is Apple's full press release.

PowerLogix Announced ClearCube Enclosure for the G4 Cube: The ClearCube is an updated acrylic enclosure for the PowerMac G4 Cube. The ClearCube is a follow-up to the PowerCube, a limited quantity run of aluminum alloy enclosures and is no longer in production. The ClearCube offers several improvements over the original Cube enclosure so Cube owners can now realize significantly enhanced CPU and graphics performance without the risk of additional heat, a common problem when upgrading original Cubes.

Here are the features according to PowerLogix:

• Flame polished cast acrylic
• G5-style aluminum top plate
• Substantial additional cooling capability for higher performance upgrades
• DC/DC Card relocation mounting bracket and cable
• Greatly increased free area around video card for maximum cooling
• Works with original Aiport Card

They can be ordered now for $129 plus shipping. A discount will soon be available when ordering through CubeOwner.com.

Macs Only!'s Macworld Expo 2004 Show Floor Report: Brian Nakamoto, our West Coast reporter, walked the Macworld Expo 2004 show floor in record time, even with stopping at every booth with a new product. Here is his show floor report.

Macworld Expo 2004 Best of Show Awards were announced in this IDG press release. Here is the list:

  • Apple GarageBand
  • CRYPTOCard CRYPTO-Server X
  • Elgato Systems EyeTV 200 / EyeHome
  • Freeverse Bumper Car
  • Freeverse Toy Sight
  • Kaidan PiXiMation
  • LaCie Bigger Disk
  • Slim Devices Squeezebox
  • Camdynamics lens&light optimizer
  • Roxio Toast with Jam
  • Rogue Amoeba NiceCast
  • Software Mackiev Kid Pix Deluxe 3 for OS X
  • WiebeTech G5 Jam
  • You Software You Control 1.0

[Dana Baggett]

Feral Interactive to Publish ChessMaster 9000 for Mac: Feral will be publishing, world’s most popular chess simulation: ChessMaster 9000 from Ubi Soft. ChessMaster 9000 is the latest in a best-selling series (the last version to appear on the Macintosh was ChessMaster 6000 in the late 90s). The player is given the choice of different boards and different opponents (Computer or real life player) of different strength.

ChessMaster will allow the player to enjoy and learn from more than 800 classic games, including the best of 2001 and 2002 Grand Master games, features avec 150 different opponents, has the best graphics ever seen in a chess program with true 3D gameplay and can be played online. The Macintosh version of ChessMaster 9000 is being developed by Feral’s porting partner Zonic and will be released for Mac OS 9 and X. More details about the Mac version of ChessMaster 9000 will soon be available on Feral's web site.

Speed Download 2.2 is Out and has been completely re-optimized and tweaked for Mac OS X 10.3.2. This version also adds the ability to update and monitor all your favorite Macintosh applications quickly and effortlessly, as well as be, the centralized download hub on any Mac OS X system. This added value is FREE to all registered SD2 users. There are no monthly or yearly subscription fees to pay! Speed Download 2.2 works and is only $20 from Yazsoft.

Tonight on The Mac Night Owl LIVE: This week, The Mac Night Owl LIVE will be covering all the excitement of the MacWorld announcements with exclusive interviews from the people who made them. Tune in at 9p EST (6p PST) to hear the inside scoop on some of the hot products at the show.

Xserve G5 Servers have Newer G5 CPU based on the 90-nanometer technology. This second generation G5 consumes less power and that will produce lower heat that we noted Monday was needed to get it into the Xserve. This is confirmed in the Xserve G5 Technical Overview just posted by Apple. What this also means, since the Xserve G5's are due out in February, that faster Power Mac G5s are just around the corner as are possibly other Apple hardware items using the G5. Perhaps there will be a Macintosh 20th birthday announcement along these lines on January 24th.

Pooch 1.4 for Making Mac Clusters is Out: Yesterday, we noted Apple's Xgrid. Today we note that Pooch combines Macintoshes to create easy-to-use cluster computing. Version 1.4 debuts a new graphically-based, dynamic job queue and scheduling system taking advantage of Pooch's built-in heuristic functions and cluster diagnostics. It also sports an updated graphical user interface taking advantage of features introduced in Panther, Apple's latest Mac OS X. Pooch supports industry-standard MPI, combines Rendezvous, multiprocessing, and grid computing, and installs on a node in seconds.

-- Thursday, January 8 --

[Update 7:15a EDT] Macs Only!'s On-Scene Macworld 2004 Photo Gallery: The photos were taken by Brian Nakamoto, our West Coast reporter. There appears to be a lot more empty space in the Moscone Center this year. We'll post Brian's close-out show floor report tonight.

Maine Students Defend Their iBooks in this set of letters to the editor of the Portland Press Herald. The letters are in response to criticism by a student in another Maine school. he contended that the iBooks should be made available only to high schoolers. [Dana Baggett]

iBooks Used for the Skowhegan, Maine Community Project: This is an award-winning example of what seventh and eight grade Maine students can do with their iBooks and iMovie. The project received a first prize from the Maine/USA Geographic Alliance!

"Students at the Skowhegan Area Middle School have completed an in-depth study of our town, Skowhegan, Maine. Many town officials and folks from the community have been interviewed in attempts to learn more about the day to day operations of local government, and to get a feel for local history. Historical topics relating to the area have also been researched extensively."

Skowhegan, Maine is the home of the late US Senator from Maine, Margaret Chase Smith. [Dana Baggett]

Apple Posted Xgrid--Make Your Own Mac Cluster: A free technology preview version of Xgrid was released by Apple on Tuesday. According to Apple,

Xgrid turns a group of Macs into a supercomputer, so they can work on problems greater than each individually could solve. You can let Xgrid operate in screensaver mode, so whenever you aren’t working, your Mac can crunch away at some data set. Or if you have a group of Macs dedicated to the task, Xgrid makes it easy to set up a cluster that works around the clock, every day of the year.

If you have a home network and crunch a lot of data, Xgrid may be for you. Xgrid is being developed by Apple's Advanced Computation Group. This preview release of Xgrid is fun and easy to try out with its demoes. We just wish it worked on processing Halo's graphics....

Feral Interactive to Publish Mac Version of Bionicle: Feral will be publishing the Lego game Bionicle. Bionicle features will let the player enter the legend of Bionicle, Lego’s best selling game ever. Bionicle features all 6 Toa’s, each of them playing a stunning game environment such as swimming in the see, snowboarding in the mountains, gliding from tree to tree and much more fun. Use Toa’s elemental powers to defeat Makuta, reveal the 7th Toa and return the island of Mata Nui to light. Be the Toa – Live out the legend. The Macintosh version of Bionicle is under development by Zonic and will be released for Mac OS X. Details will appear soon on Feral's web site.

Griffin Announced SightLight a FireWire Light for Apple's iSight web camera. Griffin Technology, Inc, announced the release of SightLight, a FireWire based light made exclusively for Apple Computer's iSight Web Camera. With SightLight users can look their best when using iSight with iChat AV. The SightLight slips directly onto the front of the iSight and beams a warm bright glow onto the subjects directly in front. Settings include On, Off and an Auto light mode, which senses the amount of ambient light and adjusts SightLight's output accordingly. It sells for $39.99 and will ship this spring. Pre-orders are being accepted.

LiveTime Support 2.5 Out Soon: LiveTime Software announced that version 2.5 of its J2EE based technical support and Helpdesk product, LiveTime Support will ship this month. This version includes a new dashboard for technicians, which provides instant access to key metrics about cases and performance for each user. Also today, LiveTime has strengthened its support for the OSX community, with its offer of customized support and training for members of the Apple Consultants Network (ACN). LiveTime Support is a complete J2EE, web-based technical support and help desk solution providing a comprehensive scalable support infrastructure for organizations.

-- Wednesday, January 7 --

[Update 7:15a EDT] The Steve Show 2004: Brian Nakamoto is covering Macworld Expo 2004 on site for Macs Only! and he was there at yesterday's keynote address by Apple CEO Steve Jobs. Here is his complete report on it. Stay tuned for other reports from the show floor this week.

Analysis--Steve Jobs' Macworld 2004 Keynote: Yesterday, we posted a note on Steve Jobs three major announcements: G5 Xserve, GarageBand and iPod mini. But there were other interesting tidbits mentioned in his keynote address:

  • This year is the 20th anniversary of the Mac, introduced by the award winning commercial "1984" during that year's Super Bowl game. Keynote attendees got a poster.
  • There are now some 9-10 million active users of Mac OS X, nearly 40% of Apple's 25 million installed base. There are 10,000 OS X native applications.
  • Final Cut Express Pro 2.0 was announced, $299 or $99 upgrade. It was demoed. There are some nine new features.
  • Microsoft Office 2004 for Mac will be out in the spring. Word will have a new component called Notebook to take text and audio notes on your Mac. Excel has a new page layout view that shows exactly how it will print. Both were demoed.
  • 30 million songs have been downloaded from iTunes Music Store and the download rate is approaching 2 million per week. It represents 70% of all legal music downloads.
  • Pepsi and Apple will give away 100 million songs with 300 million bottles of Pepsi Cola, one in three will have a free song code under the cap. We intend to buy a lot of bottled Pepsi starting in February.
  • There are now five applications in iLife '04 due out January 16th for $49 on a CD. iTunes 4.2 has already been available as a free download but it is not clear if any of the other upgrades will be available as a download. Both iMovie 4 and iPhoto 4 have new features. iMovie 4 will capture video from iSight and iPhoto will work with 25,000 photos. iPhoto 4 will be much faster, have smart albums, photo sharing with Rendezvous, new effects like Sepi toning and slide show capability with editing. iDVD 4 will get new themes and titles like the "Star Wars" effect. The big announcement was the new GarageBand application and its demo took the longest segment of the keynote.
  • Some 730,000 iPods were sold during the fourth quarter of 2003, about 2 million since they were introduced. The iPod is 31% by units and 51% by revenue of the MP3 player market, number one. The 10 GB low end model was replaced by a 15 GB model. New "in-ear" headphones were announced for $39. The new iPod mini was released "...to capture the high end flash player market..." according to Steve Jobs.

So what do we think? If you are interested in music, especially recording your own music, the keynote was great. Most of the keynote was devoted to this topic. For those who play instruments and/or sing, the new iLife application GarageBand has got to be really terrific. When we were teenagers, around when Steve Jobs was, it seemed that there were lots of garage bands--it was a real in thing then. Today, we know few families whose kids are in such bands. But, maybe GarageBand will spark a massive re-vitilization of them.

If you only want to use an MP3 player for music that you frequently listen to and have only a moderate number of contacts and calendars, a 4-GB iPod mini is also terrific. Since we have only 178 songs on our 30-GB iPod, we would definitely get an iPod mini if in the market because of its small size and simplicity--a silver one to match our PowerBook. Many people point out that for $50 more one gets an additional 11-GB and more functionality but to us that's like paying 50 cents more for a humongous cup of softdrink that you won't drink. We think the iPod mini will be hugely popular even at $249.

If you are interested in computing other than with music, the keynote may have been a disppointment. But we think that you shouldn't let it get to you. First, Apple has had to diversify to survive as a company and it is a hit in the consumer digital music field, a huge success in this spoke of Steve Job's digital hub theme. Second, Apple no longer saves up all of its announcements for Macworld. Recently, there have been many more announcement points during the year. As quantities of faster and cooler G5s become available later this year, we will see faster Power Mac G5s with other features and G5 PowerBooks and maybe even newly-designed G5 iMacs.

We look forward to an exciting 2004. [Photos by Brian Nakamoto]

Steve Jobs' Macworld Keynote Re-Webcast is Available from this Apple web page [Apple changed it after publication time. It's now fixed.] The quality is exceptional from here via Earthlink DSL. We had a lot of difficulties with the original web cast. QuickTime 6.5 on our G4 Cube (10.3.2 QT6.5) hooked up to a LAN fed by aT-3 line kept freezing a few seconds into the webcast and every few times it gave us a 453 error message--insufficient bandwidth. However, it came though fine on a Beige G3 (10.2.8, QT6.3) and an iBook 500 (10.3.2, QT6.5) hooked up to the same ethernet hub. One of us had no difficulty with a G4 Cube (10.3.2, QT6.5) fed by Verizon DSL.

QuickerTek Announced AirPort Extreme Base Station Adapter: QuickerTek, a developer of Apple PowerBook antennas and external antennas for wireless Airport Base Stations, announced an adapter that allows third party wireless products to work with and at the Apple Airport Extreme rates. This adapter allows all third party wireless vendors to work with Airport Extreme Base Stations. This wireless adapter enables the Airport Extreme Base Station to recognize non-Apple external antennas that heretofore have not been compatible with Apple's design. These adaptors are available in two connectors, SMA and MCX and are only available from QuickerTek Inc. and their master distributor MacAnywhere.com. Suggested retail prices for these two adapters are $49.95 and can be purchased from retailers such as TechnoWarehouseLLC.

-- Tuesday, January 6 --

[Update 6:30p EDT] Macworld Keynote--The Most Salient Product Announcements: Steve Jobs made three announcements of new or semi-new products during his keynote address to Macworld Expo 2004 in San Francisco's Moscone Center earlier today.

The first is the G5 Xserve, the first but only item on our Monday deficit list that was announced. Out in February, it will come with single or double 2-GHz G5 CPUs plus an assortment of other excellent enhancements, including many for the Xserve RAID, and will cost $2,999-3,999.

The second is GarageBand, a new member of the iLife software suite. The iLife apps, other than iTunes, get upgraded and the whole suite will be available January 16th for $49. GarageBand, thankfully without the "i", is for people who want to make music from instruments or voice with a simple application along the lines of iMovie and iDVD. There are two new accessories for GarageBand, JamPack with more software instruments, loops and amps and a 49-key music keyboard for $99.

The third is the least-kept secret, iPod mini. iPod mini is a business card-size MP3 player that holds 1000 songs, has a brushed aluminum case in five colors and costs $249. It will be available in February in the US and April elsewhere.

We will have some comments and analyses on the keynote announcements in tomorrow's edition.

Steve Jobs Keynote Address Kicks Off Macworld Expo 2004 Today at noon EST (9 a.m. PST). Brian Nakamoto, Macs Only!'s West Coast reporter, will be in attendance and will file an on-scene report following the keynote. Look for other reports from the show floor during the week.

You can see Steve Jobs keynote address by QuickTime Streaming from this Apple web page and this PRNewswire article has the satellite coordinates. We'd be surprised if it were not shown in the theaters of most Apple Stores.

iBooks Handed Out to 7th Graders by NH Governor on a snowy day following the holidays recess yesterday according to this TheWMURChannel.com article. Seventh graders in six New Hampshire schools got iBooks thanks to $1.3 million in private donations. [Dana Baggett]

Web Browser Share of Primary Internet Use to Shrink in favor of other internet applications acccording to this Yahoo News article. Some 76 per cent of web surfers use other internet applications like media players, chat software, software updaters, etc. [Dana Baggett]

Similar to the Web Browser Plight, E-mail will Fade according to this TechWeb News article. [Dana Baggett]

Free QuickerTek Technology Improves Dr Bott Apple Base Station Antenna according to a note we received from QuickerTek.

This free do-it-yourself "tune-up" is designed to improve the antenna performance of Dr. Bott's ExtendAIR Omni Antenna for the Apple Extreme Base Station. These instructions are posted on the QuickerTek web site for immediate download.

The instructions are provided without support and are for the technically savvy. They are complete and will provide Dr. Bott customers with sufficient direction to unlock the full potential of this antenna. These antenna upgrade instructions can be downloaded from the QuickerTek web site.

[Update 7a EST] DAVE v5 Released by Thursby Software Systems: DAVE is networking interoperability software that allows Macs to run as a PC on a PC network.

"Microsoft's Windows Server 2003 enhanced the default network security by using what is referred to as NTLMv2 and SMB signing. Thursby has the only SMB product offerings for the Macintosh that will work with these machines without degrading the security level," says George Colley, Thursby's President.

It's available today from Thursby.

[Update 7a EST] Nisus Offers Macworld Discounts on Writer: Nisus Writer is an excellent word processing application. Here are the discounts:

  • Nisus Writer Express (CD or Download): $49.95 (Regular Price $59.95)
  • Nisus Writer Express Special (CD or Download) $34.95 (Regular Price $39.95)
  • Nisus Writer 6.5 CD or download: $69.95 (Regular Price $79.95)
  • Nisus Writer 6.5 Competitive Upgrade CD or download: $49.95 (Regular Price $54.95)
  • Nisus Writer 6.5 Upgrade CD or download: $34.95 (Regular Price $39.95)

This sale will last until 11 January 2004, so one needs to act quickly!

-- Monday, January 5 --

Mac OS X 10.3.2--How Fast Is It? As background, we have benchmarked every version of Mac OS X (except 10.3.1, a quick fix) starting with 10.0 because its speed has been the source of its biggest complaints that has persisted right through Jaguar's last version, 10.2.8. Apple made some progress with a couple of 10.0.x updates and with 10.1 and 10.2. But, as we noted in our last Jaguar benchmark, all of the Jaguar versions through 10.2.8 were basically the same speedwise. Our previous speed test of Panther (10.3) in October concluded that it was much faster in some very important aspects than the last version of Jaguar, 10.2.8. Since Panther's latest update, 10.3.2 includes new graphics drivers, it may be even faster. Well, how fast is it?

We ran our complete suite of speed tests on 10.3.2, consisting of a number of "canned" benchmarks and several so-called "real world" benchmarks. They are described in detail in our G4 Cube 1.2-GHz upgrade review and are simple enough for anyone to repeat on their own Mac for comparison. We used a completely stock 450-MHz G4 Cube (except for the 704 MB of RAM) and our dual 2-GHz Power Mac G5 with 1.5-GB RAM and an ATI Radeon 9800 Pro (retail) graphics card as test machines. Each test was run three times with a cold boot in between and the average score or number of seconds computed. Here are the results comparing 10.3.2 with 10.3 (10.2.8 is also included):

Speed Tests (average scores or secs). Red is much* faster within each Mac comparo.
Test Cube 450 MHz
G5 dual 2-GHz
Mac OS X Version:
Altivec Fractal 1.1.3 (GFLOPS)
Cinebench 2003 - Rendering
- OpenGL Hardware Lighting
Let1kWindowsBloom 1.0 (sec)
Xbench 1.1.3 - CPU
- Threading
- Memory
- Quartz Graphics
- OpenGL Graphics
- User Interface Graphics
- Hard Disk
"Real World" Tests:
Startup (sec)**
Shutdown (sec)
Launch Classic Mode (sec)
Copy 160 MB File (sec)
Copy 700 MB Folder 3600 Files (sec)
Scroll 142p Acrobat Reader File (sec)
Encode MP3 in iTunes 3.0.1 (sec)
Export QT Movie in iMovie 3.0.1 (sec)
Quake III Arena 1.32 (frames/sec)

*Much faster is both more than 2 seconds and more than 10 percent. **First number is after upgrade and second number is after applying SpeedStart.

In comparison with the last Jaguar version on our stock G4 Cube, Panther is much faster in 2D graphics and in finder operations. Startup in our G4 is also much faster with Panther (10.3) than with Jaguar. But the 10.3.2 Update slows down the startup time significantly, 75 seconds versus 44 seconds. Applying SpeedStart 0.1 and rebooting twice recovers some but not all of the lost speed to 52 seconds, similar to Jaguar 10.2.8's startup time. Disk performance also seems to be slightly poorer with the 10.3.2 update. The major improvement is in 3D graphics, i.e. 33 fps vs 21-22 previously.

The dual 2-GHz Power Mac G5 tests also confirm a significant speed up in finder operations running Panther over its special version of Jaguar--10.2.8(G5). There is also a strange anomally with the Let1kWindowsBloom test and the G5 running Panther (10.3) or the 10.3.2 update that we can not explain--we ran it several times under a variety of circumstances and got the same results. Again, startup time in 10.3.2 prior to applying the SpeedStart patch was significantly slower than in 10.3. After applying the patch there is no significant difference between 10.3 and 10.3.2. The major improvement in 10.3.2 is again in 3D graphics, the Quake III Arena performance fps increased significantly from 291 to 355.

In summary, the Mac OS X 10.3.2 update is much faster than 10.3 in 3D graphics, most likely due to the new graphics drivers included with 10.3.2. Without the SpeedStart patch, startup time in 10.3.2 increases significantly.

Macworld Expo 2004 SF Starts Tomorrow--What Will Apple Announce? Macworld will be kicked off tomorrow at the Moscone Center in San Francisco with Steve Jobs' keynote address starting at noon EST (9 a.m. PST). Apple posted a web page for the keynote's webcast by QuickTime Streaming. It should also be listed here sometime today.

After an incredible 2003, what will Apple announce at Macworld for 2004? Well, we really don't know and neither does anyone else outside of a small group in Apple despite what you may read. Accordingly, we have long given up trying to predict what Apple will do and what Steve Jobs will announce. However, there are a few areas in Apple's product lines that are lagging and deserve attention that we will mention. Hopefully, they will be addressed.

First on our list are Apple's terrific value-leading servers, Xserve. They currently have dual 1.33-GHz G4 CPUs. Xserves need to be outfitted with G5 CPUs. The newer lower-temperature G5s made by IBM will allow this. Apple needs to dance lightly here since the G5's parent drives IBM's servers. Since the newer G5s will also be faster, we'd be surprised if the Power Mac G5s don't also get a nice speed bump.

Second on our list is the iMac. The relatively new 20" iMac is terrific but the iMac in general probably suffers from the megahertz myth among consumers even with a more-than-adequate 1.25-GHz G4. Giving them low end G5's would do much to squash this problem after all the G5 supercomputing publicity and their higher megahertz. Moving to a G5 might require a different enclosure to deal with the higher heat output of the G5, a design change opportunity that usually improves sales.

Because of power and heat considerations, we think it will be more time before the PowerBooks get a G5. There may be a small speed bump on the higher end PowerBook G4s to keep interest alive. We'd like to see the 12" PowerBook get a PCMCIA slot or at least a USB or FireWire adapter with MaC OS X drivers so that us Roadwarriors can keep up with wireless internet developments with Apple's tiny PowerBook. The iBooks just went G4 so we don't forsee any major changes for them in the near future.

Third on our list is AppleWorks, Apple's very nice and inexpensive office suite. It's been an age since AppleWorks 6 came out with Mac OS X compatibility. Even at v6.2.7, AppleWorks still has a few bugs and is in need of updating, both keep it from being an excellent but somewhat lesser alternative to Microsoft Office v.X for the rest of us. AppleWorks should become part of the iLife family, offer total interoperability with Microsoft's Word and Excel without becoming bloated with unnecessary features and work well with FileMaker Pro. The drawing and paint components should be upgraded and the presentation component might be dropped in favor of Keynote. Apple also has to dance a bit lightly here because it still needs Microsoft Office for the Mac as long as Office is the defacto office productivity suite standard but there is still no reason to not have an outstanding alternative for the rest of us.

-- Thursday, January 1 -- Happy New Year!

Dear Readers,

Barring a major news announcement, we will resume publishing on Monday, January 5th.

Have a good one,


Editor in Chief

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